Can Cash Remain King in Switzerland?


All across Europe, we are using less and less cash. In the United Kingdom, banking trade body UK Finance predicts that notes and coins will amount to only 6 percent of transactions by 2031.

In Switzerland, the federal government is looking to amend the constitution to make cash a legal right.

A popular initiative to have cash’s status enshrined in the constitution has until August next year to gain 100,000 signatures, or 1.2 percent of the population, to push through a referendum on the issue of protecting notes and coins.

However, the Federal Council of Switzerland, along with the seven members serving as the collective head of state and government, put out a statement acknowledging “the importance, for the economy and society, of the role played by cash.”

The changes that the Federal Council envisages would see access to cash enshrined in the Swiss constitution. Once king, the popularity of cash has been on the slide in recent years.

In 2017, 70 percent of payments in Switzerland were settled with banknotes and coins. By 2020 that had shrunk to 43 percent. The Swiss National Bank, which carried out the research, also found that cash is now mainly only used for amounts under 20 francs (around $23).

For everything else, it’s debit and credit cards and, increasingly, mobile phone payment apps.‌ Those Swiss citizens that spoke to CGTN on the streets of Geneva said they all find they have reduced their cash use.

“I use a little less, but it’s still king,” chuckled one man.

“I am using the Tui, so I can transfer money very quickly to a friend with the Tui application, one of the women asked for their opinion said.

Two young men told our CGTN team that they “use less and less cash because they use Apple pay and our cards,” adding that they thought that “cash was just a thing for tips.”

Those over the age of 55 and from lower-income households still use more cash than the average Swiss citizen. While Switzerland looks set to protect the status of cash, with the increase of mobile payment applications, that protection may come just as fewer people than ever are using it on a daily basis.

Source : CGTN